What is Vaping?
Vaping is what people do with an e-cigarette, which is an electronic device that heats a liquid and produces an aerosol, that the user inhales into their lungs.
E-cigarettes come in many shapes and sizes and most have a battery, a heating element, and a place to hold liquid. They can look like cigarettes, cigars, pens and even USB flash drives. Larger devices are often called tanks or mods.
JUUL is the US top selling brand of e-cigarettes. They often look like a USB flash drive and their pods are known to contain as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes.
E-liquid is often called e-juice or vape juice and it comes in a wide selection of colorful pods, cartridges and bottles filled with the liquid. The liquid is made with a propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin base, water, and added flavorings and liquid nicotine. Additionally, depending on the liquid purchased, it can also contain marijuana (THC), other potentially harmful chemicals, and/or fine particles.
Flavoring: is an additive which comes in over 7,000 flavors, including candy, fruit, mint, and coffee.
It is very important to realize that vaping a "flavored only" e-liquid does not mean
the flavoring is the only ingredient in it.
Liquid Nicotine: The addictive and toxic ingredient found in e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes. It is now well-established that under certain circumstances, e-cigarettes can deliver nicotine levels equivalent to or exceeding the levels commonly delivered by traditional cigarettes, like the high levels found in most JUUL pods. Additionally, less than 3% of the e-liquids available on the market claim to be nicotine free.
THC: The addictive ingredient found in cannabis e-liquid and traditional marijuana products. E-liquids with THC oil is usually mixed with chemical agents such as: vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, MCT oil, or PEG 400, and some of these agents, alone, can pose serious health risks.
How is Vaping Harmful?
Although some argue it's still too early to tell the overall affects of vaping on our health, it is clear that like traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes can lead to a number of serious health issues for the user and even for those around them.
One particular chemical, diacetyl, can be found in flavors like vanilla, maple and coconut. When inhaled, this chemical can cause a serious, irreversible lung disease referred to as "popcorn lung". It scars the tiny air sacs in the lungs, narrowing the airways causing chronic coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.
Even the seemingly safe flavored water vapor can cause respiratory issues, pneumonia, and/or "wet lung" syndrome.
Some substances like, propylene glycol, can break down when heated and become carcinogens (cancer causing).
Explosions while recharging the devices, due to defective batteries, resulting in serious facial and upper torso burns to anyone near the exploding device.
Children and adults have been poisoned by swallowing, breathing, or absorbing e-cigarette liquid through their skin or eyes. Nationally, approximately 50% of calls to poison control centers for e-cigarettes are for kids 5 years of age or younger.
CDC. Smoking & Tobacco Use: "Quick Facts on the Risks of E-Cigarettes for Kids, Teens and Young Adults" https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/Quick-Facts-on-the-Risks-of-E-cigarettes-for-Kids-Teens-and-Young-Adults.html Accessed 16 Oct. 2020.
DeVito, Elise E, and Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin. “E-cigarettes: Impact of E-Liquid Components and Device Characteristics on Nicotine Exposure.” https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320496544_E-cigarettes_Impact_of_E-Liquid_Components_and_Device_Characteristics_on_Nicotine_Exposure Accessed 19 Oct. 2020.
Blaha, Michael Joseph, MD. John Hopkins Medicine: "Vape Flavors and Vape Juice, What you Need to Know". https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/vape-flavors-and-vape-juice-what-you-need-to-know Accessed 16 Oct. 2020.